Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust chief: 'We'll do everything we can to treat patients ASAP' but there's 'no quick fix' to Covid backlog
The chief executive of three local hospitals has told patients that the health service, "Will do everything we can to offer you an appointment or treatment as soon as we possibly can".
Martin Barkley, who is in charge of the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust which runs Pontefract, Dewsbury and Pinderfields in Wakefield, said he understood the frustration of patients whose care had been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
In an open letter on the trust's website published this week, Mr Barkley paid tribute to hospital staff and outlined the changes the trust have made to make their three sites Covid-safe.
But with waiting times for cancer appointments and operations increasing across the country as the NHS fights a backlog, Mr Barkley warned there was "no quick fix".
In the letter, Mr Barkley said he acknowledged, "There are many of you whose appointment or procedure was postponed, or whose GP has not been able to make a routine referral to the trust.
"And some of you will still be waiting. We appreciate how frustrating and upsetting this may be. One of the things that keeps me awake at night is how we can reduce the waiting times for our patients in these incredibly challenging times we find ourselves in.
"Unfortunately, it is not like turning on a switch. It is clear this wretched virus is going to have an impact on how we do things for some time to come."
The trust chief said that some procedures, such as MRI scans could not be done as frequently as before because of the time needed to clean equipment between appointments.
Among the changes already made by NHS bosses is the diverting of cancer patients to Pontefract Hospital, where no Covid patients are being treated.
Mr Barkley also said that the trust had discharged more than 650 coronavirus patients since the beginning of the pandemic.
He added: "Our commitment to you is that we will do everything we can to offer you an appointment or treatment as soon as we possibly can. We also need your continued support.
"Please do not attend if you have any Covid symptoms, do wear a face covering when you attend any of our hospital sites, and maintain social distancing.
"It is also important you closely follow any advice you are given about self-isolation and testing before a procedure so that we can maintain your safety and that of our staff."
The letter, in full, can be read here.
Local Democracy Reporting Service